Tag Archives: lemon

Summertime Suppers: Tomato-Zucchini Pasta with Ricotta and Herbs

9 Jul

pasta 1

Summertime pasta? Yes, please!

In the summer months, I’m always looking for easy, fresh recipes that don’t require any of the following:

  1. Lots of sweat, blood & tears in the kitchen
  2. Lots of hard-to-find ingredients
  3. Lots of clean-up.

[Come to think of it I’m looking for recipes like that all the time.]

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Meat-Free Fridays: 5 Vegetarian Pizza Pies

16 Feb

latejan.2013 003

A pizza, by any other name, would smell … just as delicious. 🙂

For this week’s Meat-Free Friday, I’m starting the series with an old Lenten stand-by: Pizza! Pizza can easily be meatless — contrary to what any fan of a “Meat-Lover’s” pizza pie will tell you. While meaty toppings are often quite tasty, vegetarian pies on Fridays are such a great Lenten meal. Here are 5 Vegetarian Pizzas to try on a Friday.

Fun Fact: I’ll also throw in a BONUS recipe for whole grain dough that you can make at home. If you’re pursuing healthy eats in general, why not go whole hog (er, whole … vegetarian hog?) and try your own dough? Happy eating!

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When Life Hands You Lemons … Make Cookies, People!

9 Sep

(Sung to the tune of “Badger Badger Badger”): Lemons Lemons Lemons Ciiitrus, Ciiitrus …

None of this lemonade nonsense! (Though a lemon cocktail sounds about right, too!)

A romp around the interwebs recently led me to a new recipe — Martha Stewart’s Glazed Lemon Cookies. With a friend’s housewarming BBQ* coming up soon, I thought they’d make the perfect “Hey! Thanks for the invite! Love your place. Want some baked goods?” sort of gift. 🙂 Plus, as something of a lemon addict (see: lemon pasta; lemon tea; impending other dozens of lemon-based recipes…), they seemed right up my alley.

Now often, Martha (arguably The Queen of Domesticity, minus the whole insider-trading-sent-her-to-jail thing) uses more challenging techniques and some hard-to-find ingredients; or, at the very least, her expectations of you, lowly little chef, are very high. And more often than not, Julia Child-style, I want to meet those high expectations with vigor! And spirit! And some sweat and tears thrown in for good measure! But for these cookies, on a relaxing and slightly rainy Saturday afternoon, I was on the hunt for something easy.

And easy I found. The recipe couldn’t be simpler; it’s essentially a standard sugar cookie infused with lemon zest and lemon juice, both in the actual cookie dough and in its light, lemony glaze. Try these for a holiday party (something slightly classier, like New Year’s, comes to mind) or to indulge the sweet tooth of a lemon-lover like myself.

* Out of 26 or so cookies originally, 5 were left by the time I decided to head home. Win!

Tragically, I didn’t remember to take any pictures of the cookies before heading to my friend’s housewarming. BUT! You can see them sealed under lots o’ plastic wrap here. … Tasty, right? 🙂

Martha Stewart’s Glazed Lemon Cookies — makes 24, or fewer if you’re into the “cookie-as-big-as-your-face” thing.

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated lemon zest, plus 2 tbsp lemon juice (freshly squeezed or from a bottle are both fine)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the glaze, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Here’s what you do:

  • For the cookies, Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, whisk or sift together flour, baking soda, salt and lemon zest. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until “light and fluffy.” (Direct Martha quote!) Add egg, vanilla and lemon juice and beat until combined. Slowly add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients mixture, keeping your mixer on low. (If it gets too thick to beat with your hand mixer, finish combining ingredients using a large wooden spoon.)
  • Drop hefty tablespoons of batter onto ungreased cookie sheets (or nonstick, if you have those) and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Switch the sheets halfway through baking (as in, if one is on top of the other in the oven, swap them after 7-8 minutes). Allow to cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes; then, transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
  • For the glaze, combine all ingredients using a small whisk or fork in a small bowl. Spread or drizzle glaze mixture onto cooled cookies. Allow the glaze to harden, then commence the nomming.

The best thing about these cookies, I think, is the combination of subtle lemon in the batter and “HOLY COW THAT’S LEMONTASTIC” in the glaze. You end up with cookies that, ironically, do taste like lemonade. 🙂 Enjoy!

What are your favorite lemony treats? What are your go-to cookie recipes? This one might work its way into my repertoire — how about you?

Lemon-Basil Sweet Tea (Even From a Yankee)

30 Jul

Even if I love being a culinary adventurer, at the end of the day, I have to identify myself as a Northeastern Yankee through and through. (Growing up in New Hampshire only gives me so much street cred outside of New England.)

As you can see, there’s a lot of the country left. Like 98%.

As much as I’ve come to love the South, Southwest, and all types of international cookery, I’m humble enough to admit when I don’t know a lot about another part of the world – or, more importantly for this blog, that area’s food and drink-stuffs. Which is why I’ve made it such a point to learn about the food of each place where I’ve traveled — to try things, learn how dishes are made, and understand how deeply food ties to the culture. My travels are tastier, and I feel like I’m showing a place the respect it deserves by honoring its cuisine. (Y’know, via my taste buds.)

I suppose it can even make you something of a hipster. But hey, you’re supporting a local economy, and that’s another great reason why this stuff matters.

Among the many, MANY delicious Southern bites and sips I had while in Charleston, one I’d never really tried before was authentic Southern-style Sweet Tea. That killer sweetness cuts through the brewed tea beautifully, all due – as I’ve come to find through a bit of research – to simple syrup, rather than just sugar.

Turns out that simple syrup is easy enough to whip up – combine equal parts sugar and water, and allow the mixture to cook over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Voila, simple syrup for your tea or other recipes.

But I decided to kick this up a notch with two of my favorite flavors, lemon and basil. Some quick concocting over the stove, and behold: Lemon-Basil Sweet Tea. This recipe should serve 8 full glasses, or a number of refills if you’re using smaller tumblers. (I also have tips below for how to add a grown-up kick to the recipe.) Drink up, fellow faux-Southern ladies and gentlemen.

Image sourced from elizadomestica.com. Two favorite flavors ever? Oh yeah.

Lemon-Basil Sweet Tea – serves 8

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • ½ lemon, sliced into ¼-inch thick slices. (Save the rest for all sorts of recipes)
  • 2 cold-brew bags of Lipton iced tea
  • A large pitcher
  • 7 cups cold water, plus ice (for brewing)

Here’s what you do:

  • Mix together the white sugar and water in a saucepan or small pot. Raise the heat to medium-low and cook the mixture, stirring regularly, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is just bubbling.
  • Whisk in dried basil. Add lemon slices and cook for 1 minute more, flipping the slices after 30 seconds. Set the syrup aside to cool. Remove the lemon slices and set them aside; you can add them to the tea mixture just before serving.
  • As the syrup is cooling, make your cold brew in a large pitcher according to package directions; you may want to use slightly less water (7 cups, rather than 8) while adding about ½ a tray’s worth of ice cubes. (Lipton teas usually take 5 minutes of cold brewing with 2 cold brew bags.) Remove tea bags and discard when finished.
  • When the lemon-basil syrup has cooled, slowly pour and mix it into the tea, according to taste. You can also leave the syrup separate to use for future tea brews, as well as a lovely topping for sliced fruit (particularly strawberries and blueberries). It should keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

If you’d like to add a grown-up twist to your tea, try the following mix-ins:

  • Add a shot of Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka or Firefly Sweet Tea Bourbon to your glass; mix thoroughly.
  • Add a shot of honey liqueur (use less syrup with this one), such as Barenjager, to your glass and mix thoroughly.
  • Add a shot of any other lemon-flavored liqueur to your glass for something of a big kid Arnold Palmer; Absolut Citron, a shot of Limoncello or even a dash of Mike’s Hard Lemonade might work well. Keep experimenting!

What are your favorite Southern dishes? Are you a sweet tea person, darlin’? Or do you like yours sweetener-free?

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Spaghetti Limone Parmeggiano

13 Jul

In an effort to keep learning and stay fresh with all things culinary, I’ve been trying out recipes from Gwyneth Paltrow’s semi-new cookbook, My Father’s Daughter. Gwyneth’s become something of a self-taught chef over the years, learning from her parents, her Spanish “mama” (she studied abroad there as a youngster), and her own explorations of good, healthful food. Many of the recipes are vegetarian or vegan, but others are comfortably adapted to a more traditional diet. (Though she does use duck bacon, which I’ve never tried … any of you?)

image sourced from wgu.edu.

[And yes, by using her first name, I can pretend we’re friends. I’m also babysitting Moses and Apple after school next week while Gwynnie’s at a bikram yoga class. Tee hee. In my defense, I saw her at a movie premiere in London once! Check out my not-so-clear shot below.]

This might have been a banquet for The Prince’s Trust. Either way, this is, by far, the closest I have ever been to an actual, real live “famous person.”

 While the book is filled with fun and healthy recipes, my FAVORITE is her Spaghetti Limone Parmeggiano. It’s simple, elegant, and oh-so delicious. For those of us in the “learning” process of cooking, this is an easy recipe to master.

Note: All credit here goes to Ms. Paltrow, her book and her impeccable taste. I’ve tried to rewrite the directions in my own words, but the method is the same. If I’ve changed anything ingredients-wise, it’s noted in parentheses below.

Spaghetti Limone Parmeggiano – serves 4

You’ll need:

  • 1 lb spaghetti (Up from Gwyneth’s ¾ lb; I’ve also used shells, penne or other types of pasta)
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 ½ cups grated Parmesan cheese (or a mixture of Parmesan and Romano; that extra bite is nice!)
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 ½ tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-5 tbsp pasta water (easily eyeballed)
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves (or 1-2 tsp dried, crushed to release essential oils)

Here’s what you do:

  1. Fill a pasta pot with water, and heat on high until boiling. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, grate the lemon zest into a serving bowl. Then, cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the same bowl. Add your Parmesan, pepper, and salt, mixing together with your olive oil to form something of a lemony “pesto.”
  3. When the spaghetti is cooked through, add some of the pasta water to your “sauce.” Add the pasta and toss thoroughly until everything is well-coated. If needed, add a bit more pasta water to keep things from getting too sticky. Tear your basil leaves by hand, stirring them into your pasta.
  4. As Gwyneth says, “serve each portion with a sprinkle of coarse salt, a fresh grind of black pepper, and a few gratings of extra Parmesan.”

So. Hilariously. Easy. And so, SO good. If you’re looking for some additional protein, this dish is delicious when served with grilled or sautéed chicken, particularly if said chicken has something of a lemon-based or Italian-style marinade. Add a green salad and some crusty bread, and you’re well on your way to being besties with Gwyneth – or, at least, imagining you are.

I also highly recommend My Father’s Daughter – I’m slowly cooking my way through (more recipes on the way), and it’s a great resource for all of us self-taught chefs. Enjoy!